Deadlines and setting/meeting them

This post is a continuation from my previous one about having a timeline and meeting deadlines.

Since I’m a researcher, I thought I would research it. There are two parts to this process, as I mentioned in the previous post; 1) meeting deadlines to progress with my research/article writing; and 2) setting deadlines for writing a book.

As it happens, I’ve just been agreeing an author’s deadlines about their next book with their publisher. The deadlines are split into an initial two months and then six weeks between the last five. It’s the kind of book that works in batches so this process works fine. The complete manuscript is due at the end of six months.

Six weeks feels a little long for iterations of research, however, so I thought I’d try two-week deadlines. How do I provide an incentive to meet them though? External deadlines/pressure feel different to internal ones. If I don’t meet it, I evaluate my behaviour and conclude that I’ve acted just fine.

I was thinking of an app where you stake a certain amount of money and if you don’t do the corresponding act, you lose the money.

Or one idea that came to me in the shower was I could set up a scheduled post on this blog. When I meet the deadline, I can post what I’ve written. When I don’t, it will publish as a blank and be visibly incomplete. I like that idea. It seems very doable as well.


Learning how to deal with deadlines is part of the research process as much as finding out who your fellow researchers are, and what your area of study looks like. When you begin a PhD, part of your role as a student is to find out where you fit.

You have to learn how to become a researcher; you have to increase your abilities, meet deadlines, and strengthen your writing qualities:

Ultimately, the supervisor’s role in providing feedback and setting deadlines is crucial in developing students’ abilities and in strengthening students’ writing quality (12). –Leite, Paditha, and Cecatti (2019)

The source for the above points on the supervisor’s role is

Darcy Haag Granello (2001) “Promoting Cognitive Complexity in Graduate Written Work: Using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a Pedagogical Tool to Improve Literature Reviews” Counselor education and supervision

[I’m reading through the literature to figure out the best practice for deadlines TBC]

human hands knitting sheeps (Rkl painting)

Setting up a check-in group

I’m trying to find the best way to provide regular deadlines for myself. I tend to think, read, process a lot before I write and so I need regular scheduled points to make myself produce output.

If there are too few deadlines, there is too much work and the quality and content suffers.

Just the right number of deadlines, spaced out, means less work each time, and better quality. It also provides time for revisions and thinking too.

If the deadlines are too frequent, however, then there is not enough time to do the work required.

I’m going to start with weekly deadlines, and see how they go. Then if that’s too frequent, I’ll try fortnightly ones.

For that purpose I’ve created a Slack channel for checking in with myself and others.

If you would like to join then do email me and I’ll add you on. I’m still working on the rules and the constraints but it feels like a good idea. joanna @ Drop me a line if you’d like a check-in buddy for your deadlines.

Maybe a template would be helpful.

Needing a schedule and an end date

I was reminded today that I’d been meeting with my Patreon mentor Helen for two years* and the overall output I’ve produced is not much. At least, according to those who know how much output there should be. I’ve written up a survey, a few case studies (still incomplete) and I’m nearly finished with my first article.

So what is my end date? I don’t actually have one. Or at least I didn’t have one until today. I have just liked the idea of doing this forever or maybe for 10 years; or have I?

I want to finish this PhD so I can learn the right skillset and have the right criteria to at some point work with a university or even apply for academic positions. That seems positive to me.

So I do want to finish. Or at least part of me does.

One way to figure out how much other parts resist what I’m doing is by writing up a schedule and noting any resistance.

With feedback from HK, it seems reasonable to write six articles in two years. I have two more to write for 2022, and then three for 2023.

Validity check: The PhD by thesis requires five to seven articles so that fits.

A fellow student talked about her work at the group meeting and really inspired me in further matters:

  1. What is the demographic of the Twitter activists/citizen journalists;
  2. Autoethnographically: writing an academic article is journalism; noting how I write that counts as practice.
  3. Who is excluded? Who excludes themselves?

How much of my research is about the local political participation and how much is about researching how to do a PhD on local political participation?

Immediate Actions

  • Finish the article, send to HK before the end of the month.
  • Cut about 2000 words, let it flow better; make it make sense.
  • Plan two further articles for 2020
  1. Riots in Bristol and news framing
  2. demographics of citizen journalists in Bristol

Plan three further articles for 2023

  1. local media? local journalism? (See Franklin, 2006; Routledge Handbook on the local media) how local is the coverage?
  2. Citizen journalists in other cities (what’s the angle? LDRs in cities linked to quantity of activism?)
  3. Diary research on the use of mayoral time.

Schedule for PhD


28 February – Final version of Article 1

15 June – Article 2

15 November – Article 3


15 April – Article 4

15 August – Article 5

15 December – Article 6

And then I have to fit in the application to a university for a thesis by publication and a 20,000 words or so for a dissertation. I also have to wait to see whether the articles are accepted, any revisions, how long it takes to get published, submit to different journals etc.

Submitting by 2025 seems a possibility.

Schedule for writing a book on how to do a self-studied PhD?

??? This was in the back of my mind but not really something I thought about. How about I think about it now?

If I was planning out a book, which I do want to write, I’d write about setting up a schedule for how to be a professional researcher and complete a PhD in Chapter 1.

15 March – outline for a book on how to do a self-studied PhD.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

*It’s actually nearly three years because I began in July 2019

Tightening up the literature review and my thoughts

sitting on the bench in autumn square (Uma painting)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I want to say that I’m still going strong. I’ve nearly finished my first article, which I intend to submit to a journal.

I have got to such a stage of writing and research that I filled out a research proposal form for PhD at a university yesterday.

I don’t think I want to go to a university but I wanted to see if I could make sense of my research and provide a succinct literature review for my topic.

The field on the form suggested a maximum of only 750 words so I had to be very selective. I also had to make sure all my references were correct, and I filled in gaps I had previously missed — such as local political participation.

All in all, it was a great experience.

I’m posting the 750 word literature review plus references below.

PhD Title: What is the effect of social media on local political participation and knowledge, compared to local and national mainstream media?

What is journalism?

The idealised version of journalism, “how the profession makes sense of itself” (Deuze, 2005) is one where newspapers operate independently from private and political interests, and try to hold power to account (Palmer, Toff, and Nielsen, 2020). It’s a self-serving view of journalism, and readers who see their own problems failing to appear in the local press may start to doubt it.

Cutbacks in local newspapers with centralisation of local staff make it harder for the media to do their jobs. It leads to 1) local news deserts where local newspapers don’t exist and also 2) content deserts where newspapers don’t cover what is important to readers (Kiriya, 2020).

When the local press gets too close to the people in power then citizen journalism covers local news in ways that the local media, seemingly cannot, with community-driven or hyperlocal journalism that emerge due to the “public’s dissatisfaction with legacy media” (Metzgar, Kurpius, and Rowley 2011, 782).

Citizen journalism

Citizen journalism has been growing with the spread of digital technology and social media, helped by the reduced costs of publishing digitally (Miller, 2019). It’s conceptualized by scholars in varying ways such as the industry-preferred “user-generated content”, but also as “citizen witnessing” (Allan 2013), “audience material” (Wardle and Williams 2010), “networked journalism” (Beckett and Mansell 2008), “process journalism” (Jarvis 2009), “participatory journalism” (Singer et al. 2011), “alternative journalism” (Atton and Hamilton 2008), “liquid journalism” (Deuze 2008) and “ambient journalism” (Hermida 2010; cited in Luce and Jackson, 2017).

But there are two main obstacles to the impact that it can have: 1) worry about adopting a public voice in terms of the ramifications it could have to them personally (Luce, Jackson, 2017); and 2) trust from the audience, leading to authority as journalists.

Citizen journalists may have access to the public sphere, but they “do not have the power of news organizations behind them, nor can they claim the authority of membership in a socially recognized interpretative community” (Luce, Jackson, 2017; Bock 2011, 2). They are ‘untrained’ journalists (Mutsvairo, Salgado 2020) without degrees and often seen as ‘ad hoc’ (Allan 2013).

Citizen journalism has helped marginalised communities gain public voice and empowerment, be it racial minorities (Gabriel 2016), feminist movements (Valle 2014), indigenous communities (Davies 2014) or, increasingly, globalised social movements (DeLuca and Lawson 2014). Representation in the media matters (Williams, 2019)

Gaining authority and trust, and gatekeeping

Audiences might struggle to see citizen journalists as having legitimacy when not attached to established media. Authority can be borrowed by responding to the agenda that mainstream media covers (Cushion, McDowell-Naylor & Thomas 2021) but pursuing one’s own agenda, means you can’t rely on that ‘authority’.

The media’s authority relies on the norms of what news values can be reported (Hartley 1982; Shoemaker & Cohen 2006). When you report as a dissident journalist (Hartley, 1982), your route to authority is different.

Similar to how the professionalisation of the radical press was connected to the “subordination of the press to the social order” (Curran and Seaton 7th ed) and to the elimination of that radical press in the mid-1830s, professionalisation is also a way of gatekeeping who enters the profession. They say this far and no further. The axiom then becomes: news is what is printed by the media (Hartley 1982).

The media act as gatekeepers (White, 1950; Gieber, 1956; Breed, 1955; Galtung and Ruge, 1965; Vos, 2015); and, as Vos (2015) writes, the lifting of restrictions on space and printing costs “has not led to the termination of gatekeeping” (p.11).

Journalism as an institution

Journalists describe themselves in similar terms across mediums and countries as well (Sparrow, 1999; and Cook, 1998) because journalism can be seen as an institution: “humanly devised constraints” that “create order and reduce uncertainty” (North 1991). They “influence behavior by providing the cognitive scripts, categories and models that are indispensable for action” (Hall & Taylor, 1996, p. 948; as cited in Hanitzch 2007).

Much of the learning happens while on the job (SBB, 2007). As Deuze (2006) described it, “the status quo in the industry is the ideal one, hence newcomers only need to internalise what their senior peers already do” (p.21) (Hallen and Mancini, 2004; Ryfe, 2006).

The rise of citizen journalism represents an ongoing struggle over this type of “discursive authority” (Hanitzsch & T. P. Vos, 2017, p.16).

Using case studies and an ethnographic approach, I look at how social capital (Coleman, 1990; Paxton, 2002; Portes, 1998; Mansbridge, 1999) works in building up trust and authority through Twitter networks and social media.


Allan, Stuart. 2013. Citizen Witnessing: Revisioning Journalism in Times of Crisis. Cambridge: Polity.

Atton, Chris and James F. Hamilton. 2008. Alternative Journalism. London: SAGE.

Beckett, C. and Mansell, R. (2008) Crossing Boundaries: New Media and Networked Journalism

Bock, Mary. 2011. “Citizen Video Journalists and Authority in Narrative: Reviving the Role of the Witness.” Journalism 13 (5): 1–15.

Breed, W. (1955). Social control in the newsroom: A functional analysis. Social Forces, 33(4), 326–335

Coleman, J. S. (1990). Foundations of social theory. Harvard University Press

Cook, T. E. 1998. Governing with the news, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Cushion, S., McDowell-Naylor, D. & Thomas, R. (2021) Why National Media Systems Matter: A Longitudinal Analysis of How UK Left-Wing and Right-Wing Alternative Media Critique Mainstream Media (2015–2018) Pages 633-652 | Published online: 15 Mar 2021

Davies, R. (2014) Civic Crowdfunding: Participatory Communities, Entrepreneurs and the Political Economy of Place.

Deuze, Mark. 2008. “The Changing Context of News Work: Liquid Journalism for a Monitorial Citizenry.” International Journal of Communication 2: 848–865

Gabriel, Deborah. 2016. “Blogging while Black, British and Female: A Critical Study on Discursive Activism.” Information, Communication and Society.

Galtung, J. and Ruge, M. (1965) The Structure of Foreign News.

Gieber, W. (1964). News is what newspapermen make it. In L. A. Dexter & D. M. White (Eds.), People, society, and mass communication (pp. 173–182). New York, NY: Macmillan (Original work published 1956).

Hallen, D., and Mancini, P (2004) Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Hanitzsch, T. (2007). “Deconstructing Journalism Culture: Toward a Universal Theory.” Communication Theory 17 (2007): 367–385. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2885.2007.00303.x 

Hanitzsch, T. & Vos, T. P. (2017) Journalistic Roles and the Struggle Over Institutional Identity: The Discursive Constitution of Journalism. Communication Theory

Hartley, J. (1982) Understanding News.

Hermida, A. (2010) Twittering the news: The emergence of ambient journalism. Journalism Practice 4 (3), 297-308

Ilya Kiriya (2020) “Central And Local Media In Russia: Between central control and local initiatives” in The Routledge Companion to Local Media and Journalism, edited by Agnes Gulyas and David Baines.

Jarvis, Jeff. 2009. “Product v. Process Journalism: The Myth of Perfection v. Beta Culture.” BuzzMachine Blog, June 7 [

Luce, Ann., Jackson, Daniel. & Thorsen, Einar (2017) Citizen Journalism at The Margins,  Journalism Practice, Volume 11, 2017 – Issue 2-3 Published Online: 16 Sep 2016

Mansbridge, J. (1999). Altruistic trust. In M. E. Warren (Ed.), Democracy and Trust (pp. 290–309). Cambridge University Press cited in Patulny, R. V., & Lind Haase Svendsen, G. (2007). Exploring the social capital grid: bonding, bridging, qualitative, quantitative. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 27(1/2), 32–51. 

Mutsvairo, B. and Salgado, S. (2020) Is citizen journalism dead? An examination of recent developments in the field. Journalism. Pp.1–18 November 2, 2020.

Paxton, P. (2002). Social Capital and Democracy: An Interdependent Relationship. American Sociological Review, 67(2), 254–277

Portes, A. (1998). Social capital: its origins and applications in modern sociology. Annual Review of Sociology, 24(1), 1–25

Ryfe, D. (2006) `The Nature of News Rules’, Political Communication 23: 1-12.

Metzgar, Emily T.,  Kurpius, David D., Rowley, Karen M. (2011) Defining hyperlocal media: Proposing a framework for discussion

Miller, S. (2019) “Citizen Journalism”. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Oxford University Press USA. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.013.786

Singer, J. B., Hermida, A., Domingo, D., Heinonen, A., Paulussen, S., Quandt, T., … Vujnovic, M. (2011). Participatory journalism: Guarding open gates at online newspapers. Oxford, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

Sparrow, B. H. 1999. Uncertain guardians: The news media as a political institution, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Valle, F. S., Thorsen, E., & Allan, S. (2014). Getting into the Mainstream: The Digital/Media Strategies of a Feminist Coalition in Puerto Rico. Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives Volume, 2, 211-266.

Vos, T. P. (2015). Revisiting gatekeeping theory during a time of transition. In T. P. Vos & F. Heinderyckx (Eds.), Gatekeeping in transition (pp. 3–24). New York, NY: Routledge.

Wardle, C., Williams, A. (2010) Beyond user-generated content: a production study examining the ways in which UGC is used at the BBC

White, D. M. (1950). The “gate keeper”: A case study in the selection of news. Journalism Quarterly, 27, 383–390.

Williams, M.S. (Ed) (2019) Jane Mansbridge: Participation, Deliberation, Legitimate Coercion.

Resources for learning how to PhD

man tries to reach the moon

[You can listen to this blogpost on my podcast too ]

Update: I have added further links to blogs and resources that have helped me.

When I began the process of gaining a PhD by publication, it was part of a ‘learning how to learn’ trajectory. I had completed the Learning how to Learn course (a free MOOC), I had read Scott Young’s book and followed his blog, and I was in the mindset of breaking everything down to its most basic component.

How do we take notes?

How do you do a literature review?

I took a course (another MOOC) on doing a literature review and that helped a lot.

I found Dr Helen Kara’s blog, whose style and approach have inspired me a lot. She writes about research methods –the process, not the content — and just knowing that this was topic worthy enough to research on its own has opened up many more conceptual doors for me.

Through her and Twitter and my new understanding of research, I have come across more writers on how to do research.

I find Raul Pacheco-Vega’s work invaluable. He explains things, he highlights the ‘hows’ of research. He breaks down all the tasks that lecturers and professors long ago internalised into their processes, and he clearly explains how to follow and learn from his methods.

I follow him on Twitter @RaulPacheco and his blog is at

A very useful article of his I was reading this morning was about mind mapping the literature, finding the gap and writing paragraphs in your literature review.

I’ve been writing an article, an autoethnographic approach to understanding how one goes from citizen to journalist. When I look out to the literature, however, I often get overwhelmed by how much of it there is to map; how much there is to read. And there’s so much in other topics as well that it makes me pause in hesitation.

I was confronted with this idea of ‘there’s too much to learn’ yesterday and funnily enough, I had an answer straightaway.

My youngest went to the aerospace museum in Filton a couple of days ago. She went to see the Concorde at its last resting place. Tickets were £8500 she told me wide eyed and she knew that the last flight commander to bring that plane home was Captain Mark Bannister. These two bits of information were clear to her and she learned them straightaway.

I thought back to when I wanted to be a pilot when I was little, around her age and until I was much older. So, I asked her, would you like to fly a plane one day?

She looked at me and said, ‘No. The flight panel,’ she told me, ‘had a million buttons. Well not a million, maybe a thousand,’ she added with a nod and a look of you know what I mean? ‘How would I ever learn them?’

And that reminded me of how we do learn. ‘The pilot doesn’t start by learning each button on its own,’ I thought out loud to her. ‘The buttons probably fit in their own section. There might be eight sections on that panel. The pilot learns those first and then they look within that section to break down what different buttons do. That’s how you learn lots of things.’

She got bored at that point and walked off but now I have thought of an even better analogy — an actual analogy rather than an explanation. In a big supermarket, there are thousands and thousands of products. We don’t need to know all the products individually, we know that we are looking for bananas. We know there is a fresh fruit and vegetables section so we go there and look for the fruit. The things we need to know at any one time, are bounded. That’s comforting and manageable. Knowing how to approach a task gives us that sense of certainty. Knowing what the boundaries are for each task, helps.

When I was first doing a PhD, and even now when I look at ALL the literature that is out there, the vastness of it looks to me, like those thousands of buttons looked to my daughter in the Concorde. Learning how to do the next right step and process is comforting and makes research manageable.

From Helen Kara‘s and Raul Pacheco-Vega’s blogs I learned how to take notes for each paper –I use the ICA method and keep track in an Excel spreadsheet; I — introduction, C– conclusion, A — abstract. I copy and paste those three parts into a spreadsheet. I also use it to keep track of quotes and topics.

I have learned to note-take with highlighters in Microsoft Edge–a browser where you can use many tools on PDFs. I don’t have the space in our tiny flat to print out and keep track of all my research unfortunately. Maybe one day when I have an office.

Raul writes about learning to concept map by hand first but this site on concept mapping has really helped me. It helps find the linked papers to your own.

The tools help enormously. They make the difference between giving up and writing the next word, paragraph and even research paper. Most importantly they help with the writing and that’s the one thing I wasn’t doing enough of.

I’ve also found that using the highlighting method and the ICA dump helps me get to the end of reading a paper. One of my brain’s saboteur voices tries to stop me reading often by saying things like ‘why don’t you stop and research that part,’ or ‘you should be taking notes. What’s the point of reading if you’re just going to forget it all?’ etc. Well, now I am taking notes, I am highlighting and I am fulfilling the task I set for myself.

It all helps. I’ve written a first draft of a first paper. I’ve narrowed down the methodology I’m using, I’ve discovered a couple more research topics to pursue, I’ve submitted an abstract to a conference, I’ve written out my autoethnographic part, and now I need to map it to the literature.

And that’s why this morning I was reading Raul’s article on mind mapping the literature. I’m getting there, paper by paper.

Further resources

  • Research Insiders blog (link): Succeeding in a Research Higher Degree
  • Recommendations on Research Insiders blog (link)

The role of journalists

In Western traditions of news gathering, journalists are seen as being objective and impartial. Often they are complimented for doing investigative work or castigated for not challenging politicians enough. Ultimately, what comes across is that media consumers have some idea of what they think journalism is. When blogging platforms became easy to use and news creation costs were effectively slashed, a split began to appear between bloggers and professional journalists. Various issues rose to prominence — PR became indistinguishable from reporting and ads started to appear as straight copy. There are still stories of bloggers asking for free food in exchange for positive coverage, for example.

The key question that came up was who is or isn’t a journalist. To answer that and in the process link it back to citizen journalists, the first thing to do is look at the roles of journalism.

Roles of Journalism

A taxonomy of the four normative roles of journalism is provided by Christians et al. Those four are:

  • Monitorial
  • Facilitative
  • Collaborative
  • Radical

Tanja Aitamurto and Anita Varma (2018) add a fifth role:

  • Constructive

Constructive journalism is a type of journalism where a solution for how to solve a societal problem is added to the text. It is also called solutions journalism.

“A constructive role encompasses a wide breadth of journalisms, such as advocacy journalism, impact journalism, heartening journalism, future-focused journalism, transformation journalism, development journalism, and emancipatory journalism” (as cited in: Aitamurto and Varma (2018). Carpentier 2005, 206–207; Hanitzsch 2007, 381; Krüger 2017, 405–406), and has precedents in public journalism, peace journalism, and activist journalism.”

I include a table below from TA & AV about the roles of journalism. In what the authors call the Anglo-Saxon context of the media, journalism is more often thought of as monitorial–it monitors the actions of power; it observes and documents routine and unexpected events, and places a check on power. Its ideals are objectivity, accuracy and transparency. Monitorial journalism provides a watchdog function. The journalist is seen as a neutral observer ‘just reporting’ what they see.

Facilitative journalism provides a conversation about public issues. Its role is one of moderator between different political actors who want to resolve public issues.

Collaborative journalism is the PR/public relations branch of communication. It’s about giving institutions outside the media, a megaphone to advance their interests.

Radical journalism provides scrutiny of power and criticism of existing power structures. Its role is one of a critic and it advocates for change.

Internalising your role as a journalist

The four typical normative roles of journalism are usually embedded within organisations. By joining a PR company, for example, you learn a collaborative mode of communication. You embody and get taught a role by those around you. You report to an editor or a PR boss and are guided to what you can write. Journalists are hired because of their pre-existing outlooks and the type of work they do.

With advocacy journalism, however, not only does it go against the Anglo-Saxon leanings of ‘impartiality’ but it is also more likely to be found in citizen journalism. Citizen journalists are more likely to work as individuals without the top-down guidance on where their roles fit in the media and with their audience.

The lack of structure about which role to take up and the already established advocacy, which is seemingly in contrast to the Anglo-Saxon model favouring impartiality, could make it difficult for citizen journalists to feel they are an authoritative journalistic voice.

Advocacy, however, has never been far from journalism. Choosing who to interview and to whose voice to give prominence, are choices that can promote one perspective over another.

Tom Mills, in his book and research on the BBC, outlined a process of shift where instead of workers’ views being promoted, the voices of business and capital began to take prominence.

In the US, the same phenomenon has taken place according to research published by On the Media.

!The labor beat was sidelined in the ’70s in favor of business and money verticals, in pursuit of wealthier readers. The working class was left without mainstream outlets that spoke about — or to — them.”

Advocacy in journalism is inescapable because, in Fisher’s (2016) terms, “even unwittingly, the simple inclusion of a comment or perspective from a source by the reporter may inject a degree of advocacy to a story … The stronger and more passionately the sources advocate, the stronger the story” (722).

Media Lens have written about the process of how journalism works in practice by structuring the constraints of writers from the top-down. American political writer and media critic Michael Parenti explained powerfully how journalism works in practice. There are five stages of getting from an enthusiastic journalist to one who conforms to a media organisation’s needs. By the fifth stage, the lessons have been internalised to such an extent that you don’t even notice you’ve done it.

As a citizen journalist, however, the constraints are more horizontal than vertical. There isn’t necessarily a boss to tell you not to write something; you see that other people don’t write about certain topics, or you get no response when you do write about them so you don’t continue down that path.

If the ‘impartial’, objective and monitorial role is seen as the standard one, then this constrains the journalists who came to their roles in the media from a world of advocacy.

Starting to see constructive or solutions journalism as an actual journalistic role can help support citizen journalists in finding their own authority. The practice has been identified in the US since 1948 so it’s not new.


Tanja Aitamurto & Anita Varma (2018): The Constructive Role of Journalism, Journalism Practice, DOI: 10.1080/17512786.2018.1473041

Christians, Clifford G., Theodore L. Glasser, Denis McQuail, Kaarle Nordenstreng, and Robert A. White. 2009. Normative Theories of the Media: Journalism in Democratic Societies. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Fisher, Caroline. 2016. “The Advocacy Continuum: Towards a Theory of Advocacy in Journalism.” Journalism 17 (6): 711–726.

Chalmers, David M. 1959. “The Muckrakers and the Growth of Corporate Power: A Study in Constructive Journalism.” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology 18 (3): 295–311.

Carpentier, Nico. 2005. “Identity, Contingency and Rigidity: The (Counter-) Hegemonic Constructions of the Identity of the Media Professional.” Journalism 6 (2): 199–219.

Hanitzsch, Thomas. 2007. “Deconstructing Journalism Culture: Toward a Universal Theory.” Communication Theory 17 (4): 367–385.

Krüger, Uwe. 2017. “Constructive News: A New Journalistic Genre Emerging in a Time of Multiple
Crises.” In The Future Information Society: Social and Technological Problems, edited by
Wolfgang Hofkirchner and Mark Burgin, 403–422. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co

Real enough?

Harassment of the mayor’s office

Further information to be updated

Becoming a journalist

In today’s thoughts, I’m looking at how we learn to frame stories and examine how this helps you provide authority in journalism.

There’s a scene in Frasier where Roz has just announced she’s pregnant and pretends to Bulldog that it’s his baby. She paints a scene that leaves him terrified and quaking. She then adds on that he was so tender in the morning, at which point Bulldog snaps out of his terror and realises it was a joke. ‘Good one, Roz. You had me going there.’ (link)

That one inaccurate or jarring fact, derailed the whole story. Admittedly, it was a joke story but it is a useful way of looking at how journalists learn to frame stories and how they and any activists soon learn how to stick to the main narrative.

There’s some wiggle room for a drop intro or a tangential anecdote perhaps but once you get to a point that can be used as a distraction from your story, then you’ve lost track of the thread.

For example:

Reporter: Do you admit, Mr Kent that you pulled that phone booth out of the ground when you visited the scene yesterday with your dog Rocky?

Clark Kent: My dog’s name is John. You clearly have no idea what you are talking about and I cannot take you seriously. (or they will answer the trivial question rather than the substantive one)

There’s a new book out called News Framing Effects by

Rooted in both psychology and sociology, framing
effects theory describes the ability of news media to influence people’s attitudes and behaviors by subtle changes to how they report on an issue.

I’ve mentioned previously when talking about the Canary and its lack of a certain newspaper/professional journalist style. How does one learn to write in a way that focuses the story, doesn’t let its content be used to derail the conversation, and is believable as an authoritative voice in journalism.

I want to look at this in exploring how citizen journalists gain their ‘authority’ voice.

When I asked the editor of a local magazine if his journalism course taught him how to keep questions focused so as not to be derailed, he said that wasn’t taught, it was just common sense.

Step one, find the literature.

sitting on the bench in autumn square (Uma painting)

Authority in journalism

Planning an article submission

If I’m going to get a PhD by publication then I need to submit some articles.

My first thought for this thesis, was to start with the authority a citizen journalist needs to (overcome) when starting out. As advised in the book ‘How to get your thesis by publication’, you need a smaller dissertation than of full-thesis PhDs, which will tie it all together, but you also need to have a set of publications that are different but linked.

As I’ve explored the social media effects on local participation, I’ve come upon the fact that much of the social media is separate from ‘established’ or mainstream media. The social media I am looking at, primarily, is conducted by citizen journalists. Being a citizen journalist can be daunting.

Some questions raised by Daniel Jackson in relation to this are: what does it take to feel confident enough to take on that public voice? to speak a truth, to write an article, to ask questions of an authority, etc.?

We look at this through grassroots organisations that have come together for citizen journalism purposes.

I use my example of writing my first long-form investigative articles about the Labour administration in Bristol.

What difference does it make to have a newsroom experience and a hierarchy of establishment media, as opposed to starting up without any support or guidance?

How does knowing media law help? or how does not knowing media law hinder? How do citizen journalists know what to write about?

How do they assess what is newsworthy? What is of public interest?

  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Main text
  • Conclusion


Do citizen journalists need to believe they are making a difference in order to begin to internalise their position as ‘journalists’ and not just writers?

One definition of journalism is holding the centers of power to account (Amira Hass?)

How much feedback do you need as a journalist in order to feel like a journalist? See imposter syndrome:

In a mirrored fashion to a thesis by publication, the citizen journalist also may find themselves “‘going public’ at a very early stage of your research career — perhaps sometimes before you feel ready. (Lee 2010)

“Although going public is hard for anyone, it can be even harder if it is combined with ‘imposter syndrome’ — feelings of doubts and uncertainty about one’s capabilities. Kamler and Thomson’s description of the syndrome as ‘not feeling entitled to be known and seen as a researcher’ captures the core feature of this condition (2014, p.16).

Also see the reality of algorithms that privilege existing media over new media:

  • Filters on amplification exist and (Basu; Schlosberg) are the algorithms that define what gets shared and brought up on google, facebook, youtube, Twitter etc.
  • Gateways exist through which millions access news –“Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are among the new intermediaries through which millions of us access news. Justin Schlosberg (2016)
  • Manuel Castells (2009), though critical of global media corporations, argues that social networking sites offer the means of ‘mass self communication’. They enable users to produce meaning interactively. Anyone can tweet, post or upload a video.”
  • Gateways, however, tend to reinforce mainstream news brands.
  • Schlosberg (2016: 120–2) reveals that Google’s news algorithm systematically favours large-scale and incumbent providers.


Kamler, B., & Thomson, P. (2014) Helping doctoral students write: Pedagogies for supervision. New Yor, NY: Routledge.

Lee, A. (2010) When the article is the dissertation: Pedagogies for a PhD by publication. In C. Aitchison, B. Kamler, & A. Lee (Eds.), Publishing pedagogies for the doctorate and beyond (pp.12-29). London: Routledge.

bird with wings in the form of a book

In the Guardian, the clean air zone

In an audience with the mayor (July 2019), cllr Paula O’Rourke brought up some research she had read about in the Guardian to do with polluting cars. She said it was more robust than other analysis because it used MOT data (administrative data is a wonderful resource) and so could track which cars were the most polluting and where the owners lived.

She asked the mayor whether he would assess the research and pass it on to those who were assessing the clean air strategy.

For over 10 minutes he refused to contemplate it. When pushed for the last time, he said the research has nothing to do with him or his office but it is down to ‘brainy guys with big computers’ and not being done by officers.

This was very much a comment that followed Tory policy pronouncements about following the science. It’s ignorant to believe that science is anything but a matter of choices put through methodologies that need to be justified. Nothing just happens. If I choose to use a different set of measures than the latest set, this isn’t a matter of doing the ‘science’ or being brainy, it’s about a choice that will end up being erroneous.

It happens to the best of us. You may spend five years working on your PhD and then have to quickly try to evaluate a book on your topic that’s come out just as you’re about to submit.

More specifically, the CAZ research uses the index of multiple deprivation to assess who will be affected by the changes.

The question is, which Index of Multiple Deprivation data is the technical team using? A new set of measures was released in October 2019, which was just days ahead of the 5th of November 2019 cabinet meeting where the CAZ was decided on. I asked at Cabinet which year’s data was used and did not get a reply. As we can see from the comparison below, there has been a big difference in deprivation in relation to the quality of the local environment between 2015 and 2019.”

The research quoted in the Guardian was by the University of the West of England. [link] “Poor produce fewer traffic emissions than rich but are most affected – study finds”

The main benefit of this study and its conclusions is that it contradicts the mayor’s purported reasoning that he doesn’t want to charge people more because it will disproportionately because it will affect poor people the most. And that it quite specifically he isn’t trying to avoid the ire of drivers who will now be charged but only cares for the poor who might be charged.

His worry is not for the excess deaths due to air pollution in places such as Lawrence Hill, which is one of the most deprived wards in the city, but because they might be charged more, even though research shows they are less likely to own cars or drive.

So let’s see how much coverage has been given to the technical parts of the assessment, who determines ‘the science’, who are the ‘brainy people with computers’

  1. The mayor refused to even say he would suggest it to the technical team.
  1. The mayor refused to even say he would suggest it to the technical team.
  2. What has the news coverage been of this research?

Hypothesis to be checked: For the Bristol Post, the coverage has been focused on charging drivers, how much will they be charged, will they be charged, who will be charged, etc.

21 January 21

BBC Bristol


Bristol Cable

Bristol Voices

Bristol Agenda on BCFM

[to be continued]

human hands knitting sheeps (Rkl painting)
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